Obama and “Left Behind”

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

We’re now officially in the dog days of the political season,  the time of year when the most outlandish attacks on either candidate tend to stew. The latest case in point is the McCain campaign’s ad last week — “The One” — that compared Barack Obama to a messianic figure, complete with shots of Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments.”

Time’s Amy Sullivan reports that the ad is being viewed as a nod to evangelical notions that Obama is the Antichrist.

She writes, “The Republican nominee’s advisers brush off the charges, arguing that the spot was meant to be a “creative” and “humorous” way of poking fun at Obama’s popularity by painting him as a self-appointed messiah. But even this innocuous interpretation of the ad — which includes images of Charlton Heston as Moses and culled clips that make Obama sound truly egomaniacal — taps into a conversation that has been gaining urgency on Christian radio, political blogs, and in widely-circulated email messages that accuse Obama of being the Antichrist.”

Sullivan notes that visual images in the ad — created by Fred Davis — evoke the cover art of the “Left Behind” books. In other words, the campaign has gone from comparing Obama to David Hasselhoff to Britney Spears to … Linda Blair.

Maher’s Words:
One man who will have none of this religious foolishness is Bill Maher, who is poised to release his long-gestating documentary “Religulous” on Oct. 3. Among those likely to be unhappy with the movie — directed by Larry Charles, who helmed “Borat” — is Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who believes the Bible’s account that the world was created 5,200 years ago, reports Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times. “He’s not going to be happy with this movie. I suspect he’s going to say that the editing is not favorable to him [laughs]. And he’s not completely wrong about that. But we didn’t make anything up. When I told him I was worried about people [with such literal interpretations of the Bible] running the country, he’s the one who says, ‘Well, you don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate.’ “

Paris Praise: Newsweek’s Howard Fineman adds to the chorus of praise for Paris Hilton’s words about energy in her mock ad response to McCain. Fineman writes, “Paris’s message: don’t stress, don’t dis each other’s ideas, let’s just try everything!

“It doesn’t get any smarter than that.

“McCain and Obama, by contrast, are engaged in a phony war that refuses to accept the Hiltonian point: we need every tactic in this new energy war. We need all the production, conservation and research strategies we can imagine. Nothing should be belittled, or dismissed; everything should be attempted. We can’t afford to think otherwise.”

Clinton’s Return: Hillary Clinton swings to Los Angeles tonight for an event at the home of supporters Sim and Debra Farar, an event designed to thank supporters of her presidential bid, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Tina Daunt.

Winfrey’s Plans: The Rocky Mountain News reports that Oprah Winfrey is renting a $50,000-per-week home in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood during the Democratic National Convention. No plans for the talk show host have been announced. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign apparently has at least one film in the works for convention week with the help of Hollywood talent.

Stolen “Vote”?:  Former Bush aide  Bradley Blakeman claims in a lawsuit that Kevin Coster and Kelsey Grammer stole his idea for “Swing Vote.” A spokesman for Grammer, however, notes that the actor wasn’t even involved in the development of the pic.

Two Views:
Peggy Noonan praises John McCain’s appearance at the Sturgis bike rally as an appeal to the silent “center” or “silent majority.” It’s a thoughtful piece, even though the Sturgis appearance looked to me like a ridiculous piece of canned pandering. (I’m a bit biased, as I tend to be a big crank about the little regard for noise pollution that Harley drivers in general have in residential areas). For one, as you will see on Jon Stewart’s riff below, McCain spoke to the crowd reading off of notes — which is a bit bizarre because the candidate does have a proven ability to speak off the cuff.   

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